Should I Push Romance into my Story?

Whenever I go to a conference, I am privileged to hear about a wide range of stories and ideas. I always want the writer to succeed in marketing work to editors, so often I’ll ask how much romance the story has. Sometimes it has quite a bit. Other times, not so much.

One writer told me that a male character was “intrigued” by a female character, but that was the extent of that thread, and more romance could be added. I appreciated the writer’s candor and willingness to bring the book to a more marketable level. However, after hearing the story’s basic outline, I could see that the romance would most likely feel forced and contrived at worst, and add little to the story at best. I advised the writer to leave the story as is.

Does a lack of romance in a plot mean an automatic rejection from me? Not at all. Many stories are entertaining and enlightening without a trace of romance. Throwing in an unrealistic romance, such as a declaration of love from two characters who have had very little previous interaction will look like a marketing ploy and serve as a distraction or even an annoyance to readers.

Do writers need to consider the market when writing for traditional publishers? Yes.

Should they make their story something it’s not? No.

But what if a writer creates a story that doesn’t fit anywhere? There is no general answer to this one. This is where writer and agent strategize and together, attempt to walk the best path to success.

Your turn:

Have you struggled with making your story marketable? What did you do?

Have you read a book where some elements seem to be an afterthought? Did you keep reading?


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